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The Hindu
The Hindu
Siddharth Kumar Singh

Hyderabad leads the charge in fighting AIDS stigma through collaborative initiatives

Hyderabad is spearheading efforts to eradicate the stigma associated with Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The Telangana State AIDS Control Society (TSACS), in collaboration with the LGBTQIA+ community, has been actively working to raise awareness about the disease on a regular basis.

Over the past five years, TSACS, in partnership with the Moberra Foundation, a local NGO, conducted extensive awareness programmes throughout the city.

Sandi, the founder of Mobbera Foundation, expressed satisfaction with the increasing awareness among the public.

“TSACS is very open to discussions with the LGBTQIA+ community. This year, we organised flash mob events at major metro stations and malls, making TSACS the go-to place for collaboration with the government,” Sandi stated.

The pro-active approach of the State government is a rarity. Through their awareness campaigns, TSACS and its partners have successfully reached out to people. Patruni Sastry, drag queen and activist from Hyderabad, shared a transformative experience, stating, “Performing at Gandhi Hospital, I heard from HIV patients who were once treated as untouchables. Today, they feel safe and accepted.”

Numerous NGOs are now providing HIV self-testing kits, allowing individuals easily access for immediate assistance. The medication process and counselling are offered free of charge.

Despite these positive strides, Sastry highlighted a crucial change that still needs to occur – revisiting laws in India that restrict trans people, gay and bisexual men, and female sex workers from donating blood. “Even though all donated blood is screened for HIV, these restrictions persist, perpetuating an outdated notion of risk,” Sastry explained.

On World AIDS Day, Gandhi Hospital commemorated the occasion by organising a rangoli and mehendi competition at their ART centre - as a token of appreciation for People Living with HIV (PLHIV).

Additionally, Kamineni Hospitals organised an awareness walk to break the silence surrounding HIV/AIDS, aiming to reduce blame and foster an environment of empathy and support for those affected by the disease.

Speaking on the occasion, Infectious Disease specialist Dr Monalisa Sahu said: “newer treatment options help patients enable continuity of treatment with convenient daily regimen and helps in improved outcomes.”

“Dolutegravir belongs to a class of drugs called Integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs), that are a recent addition to the HIV treatment armamentarium. The consistent efficacy coupled with excellent tolerability and infrequent drug–drug interactions make the co-formulation of Dolutegravir an attractive treatment option,” she said.

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